Sport: PNG Hunters urged to improve on home turf

7:54 pm on 26 July 2017

Papua New Guinea Hunters rugby league coach Michael Marum said his players need to up their performances at home.

Coming off the bye, the Hunters appeared on course for another victory against the Mackay Cutters in Port Moresby, after Bland Abavu dotted down twice in eight minutes to open up a 12-point advantage early in the second half.

But the Cutters rallied to scored twice in the final ten minutes to snatch a 22-all draw.

The Hunters went unbeaten at home during last year's round robin, before a shock defeat in the first round of the playoffs.

PNG Hunters halfback Watson Boas.

PNG Hunters halfback Watson Boas. Photo: RNZI / Melvin Levongo

Their away form in 2017 has been impressive but they have only managed to win seven of ten matches at the National Football Stadium this season, including a loss and a draw in the past four encounters.

Michael Marum said the visitors were more hungry than the Hunters for a result.

"A concern for me in the way that these lower teams are coming up here and we are not sticking to our gameplan and stuff like that," he said.

"But again it shows the level of competition from the other teams regardless of where they are sitting - middle of the competition ladder or bottom of the table.

"They're going to be tough every weekend so we just have to turn up week-in week-out and making sure we play our best footy and do well every time."

PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum.

PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum. Photo: RNZI / Melvin Levongo

Despite being forced to share the spoils at home, the Hunters extended their lead atop the Super Cup ladder to four points after second-placed Sunshine Coast suffered another defeat.

"Apart from the four point advantage, we just need to get players playing good footy from now on," he said.

"Finals football is going to be a really totally different football game so this weekend is going to be another tough one against the Redcliffe Dolphins at their home park," he said.

"It's the Channel Nine game on Sunday (live on TV) so we just have to turn up and play according to our gameplan and play like what we've been doing all throughout the season."

The Hunters have two home and three away games left in the regular season before the start of the playoffs.

Michael Marum said he expected vice captain Wellington Albert to be back in the line-up this weekend after missing the Cutters game through injury.